Paul Ludlow is the Senior vice president of P&O Cruises
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN YOUR CURRENT JOB AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE ROLE?
I joined 16 years ago in the multi-branded sales team, where I worked my way up through the business in a number of roles. Previously, I was UK managing director of Princess Cruises, where I had the opportunity to lead a great team. When the opportunity arose to join P&O Cruises it was, as they say, an offer I could not refuse. It is a company which has such a rich heritage, the strongest momentum and a forward-looking approach.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT THE CRUISE INDUSTRY?
It’s the fastest-growing sector of the travel market and the industry is moving at such a pace. Every day there are new innovations and stories to feel excited by.
HOW IS YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT TO OTHER CRUISE LINES?
We are always finding unique ways to tell our story and inspire guests. We do this through relationships with some of the UK’s top chefs such as Marco Pierre White. These chefs are at the top of their field, thus enhancing our on-board dining experiences. Also, as the only holiday company to partner with Strictly Come Dancing, one of the country’s best loved shows, we offer those money-can’t-buy, up-close-and-personal experiences, such as one-to-one dance classes or hosted dinners with the dancers.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO
MOST OVER THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?
Seeing our new ship, which is yet to be named, take shape, and building the excitement with new guest experiences, as well as refining the signature elements across our current fleet.
IF AGENTS SELL ONLY ONE P&O CRUISES ITINERARY THIS YEAR, WHICH ONE SHOULD THAT BE?
We are excited to be offering Dubai & Arabian Gulf cruises for the first time ever. The popularity of this region is soaring and these itineraries offer a mix of destinations, experiences and unique cultures complemented by a choice of unusual tours including camel racing and dune rides.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TYPICAL CUSTOMER?
P&O Cruises is British through and through. We recognise that British guests want the security of a home away from home, personal service, the feeling of anticipation, incredible adventures ashore, relaxation and friendships – all coming together to create lasting memories.
TELL US ONE THING ABOUT YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF P&O CRUISES THAT PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT
I live by the sea and love the water and sea air. This really is my perfect job.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE FACING CRUISE SALES?
We have to dispel the myths about cruising and show we offer a holiday tailored for almost anyone and any occasion, while telling the story of modern cruising and communicating the experience in a way that stirs emotion and gets people excited.
HOW DOES THE COMPANY WORK WITH THE TRADE?
It is critical that agents can talk confidently about what differentiates each cruise to help guests understand what is right for them. Agents can help them to pick the right ship, destination and brand. The job of the sales team is to provide the tools to do this and understand its importance through training and events. Our recently launched P&O Cruises Shine Rewards Club is aimed at talking to frontline agents, giving them incentives to book P&O Cruises and earn points for prizes: we have already seen over 8,500 sign-ups.
TOP THREE TIPS FOR AGENTS SELLING CRUISE
1 Listen to guests’ holiday requirements – focus on asking questions and narrowing down all the choices on offer, so that a guest is matched to the right ship and destination at the right time of year.
2 Sign up to P&O Cruises’ new Shine Rewards Club. Once registered, every interaction with the brand, from making cruise bookings to engaging with events and completing training, gives you the opportunity to benefit.
3 Get educated through our training modules on completecruisesolution.com. Learn or test your knowledge on ships, dining, entertainment, shore excursions and destinations; each module ends with a quiz.